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Diabetes treatments may also improve CVD risk factors


Two treatments that slow the development of diabetes also may protect people from heart disease, according to a study.

Researchers examined the effect that making intensive lifestyle changes or taking metformin had on lipoprotein subfractions. The study, part of the National Institutes of Health’s Diabetes Prevention Program, found that both treatments induced positive changes in levels of these particles.

These changes could lower the risk of atherosclerosis, according to the study published Aug. 26 on the website of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, a publication of The Endocrine Society.

“Cardiovascular disease is the most significant cause of death and disability in people with diabetes,” the study’s lead author, Ronald Goldberg, MD, of the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine, said in a news release. “Our findings demonstrate that the same therapies used to slow the onset of diabetes may help allay the risk of heart disease.”

The randomized clinical trial analyzed blood samples from 1,645 people with impaired glucose tolerance. Participants were randomly assigned to one of three groups — one taking metformin, another taking a placebo and a third undergoing an intensive lifestyle modification program. Researchers compared baseline blood samples from the start of the study to samples taken a year later to measure the interventions’ effects. The study used advanced techniques to obtain a detailed picture of the various particles in the blood.

After a year, people who took part in the lifestyle modification program had lower levels of triglycerides and the particles that carry them in the blood after a year. Both the metformin and lifestyle interventions were linked to reductions in the number of small low-density lipoprotein particles and increases in high-density lipoproteins.

“Preventing or slowing the development of diabetes with these treatments also improves the cholesterol and triglyceride profile of a person’s blood,” Goldberg said. “Thanks to the added benefits of existing diabetes interventions, we stand a better chance of lowering the risk of heart disease in this patient population.”

Study abstract:


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